An animal lover all her life, and real hoot when she enters a room, Ann Anderson was destined to lead the fleet of a conservation organization like Save Our Seabirds. After the Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary went bankrupt and closed in 2006, Ann was the driving force behind the relocation of Save Our Seabirds to Sarasota in 2008, and has continued to be one of its biggest supporter ever since as the organization’s Co-founder and Vice Chair.

Adopted at seven weeks of age, Ann was fortunate to grow up in a happy, stable family in Rochester, Minnesota. “The origins of my philanthropic spirit go back to the beginning of my life,” she says. “I was adopted as an infant by two wonderful people who were empathetic and civic-minded. Their main message was that if one is lucky enough to be financially stable it was always important to give back to the community and to society.”  That opportunity presented itself when her husband, Steve, started a biomedical company called CryoLife, Inc. It eventually went on the stock exchange, and Steve sold the company upon retirement at 75. “Once he sold the company, we had the money to do more than just survive,” she shares. “We could be philanthropic.” And having moved around more than the average pair, living in various parts of the country including Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; St. Petersburg, FL; Lake Jackson, TX; Wisconsin and Atlanta, GA, the pair relished being able to migrate further south, much like Ann’s fellow feather friends, for more sun-filled days. 

“Falling in love with Sarasota was really what created the pathway to give back to the community,” she says. “I love this community, I wanted to give something back so that it can still have the beautiful aspects that we first appreciated when we started coming down here 20 years ago.” And about 10 years ago, the day before Ann was returning to Atlanta, she read a blurb in the Longboat Key Observer that a woman named Lee Fox was trying to get the Pelican Man Sanctuary on City Island back on its feet after the death of Dale Shields. She needed $30,000 to get it going and to get the Sarasota commissioners to agree to try to reopen it. “I called her and we made it happen,” Ann recalls. “Sarasota has organizations for the arts, for dance, for our beaches and waters and for other well-deserved things, but I noticed there was nothing for birds. Birds are such a beautiful and important part of our life here. I thought that they needed protection and a place where injured ones could be taken for rescue, rehabilitation and release.” Now retired and living on Longboat Key, Ann continues her work on the SOS Board by preserving habitats in the Sarasota area and ensuring the healthful rehabilitation of its many avian residents.

“I love when I am in a Zoom meeting with our SOS board of directors. These are fabulous people from around the country who share my passion and are doing all they can to make Save Our Seabirds a success,” she says. “I believe in spite of all of the people who continue to arrive here, we need to continue to preserve the birds and the beauty of our area that originally appealed to us, and to them.”